The Washington State Patrol has reportedly rejected each and every COVID-19 vaccine religious accommodation request that it has received so far.
The only way to get around Governor Jay Inslee’s (D) vaccine mandate is religious or medical accommodation, yet the state has made it impossible to obtain a religious accommodation. The WSP has received 373 religious exemption requests and reviewed 284 so far, rejecting all of them, according to My Northwest.
The WSP has alleged that “no practical accommodations” have been found so far, which is a lie, of course. The WSP claims it’s dangerous for employees to work without a vaccine despite the fact that the state has exceeded a 70% vaccination rate. This rate was non-existent last year when it was apparently safer to work.
WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis demurred when he was asked why it was safe last year but not this year.
“As to your inquiry regarding relative exposure probabilities, I would suggest you direct it to qualified epidemiologists but from my laymen’s perspective, it presupposes that lower or varied risks is somehow unworthy of attention,” he explained. “As we have all seen, the pandemic, it’s [sic] impacts, and response strategies have evolved over time as more has become known.”
Loftis went on to claim that there is no policy to accept religious exemptions but reject offering accommodations and that the WSP considers each exemption individually.
“Per EEOC and Labor and Industry guidelines, we look for job classifications with no contact with the public or other WSP personnel,” Loftis stated. “However, the search for accommodation can be difficult as by its very nature, working for WSP often has a significant public engagement component of service.”
“Those with job classes within an office or open-air cubicle environment are also not appropriate,” he continued. “If no accommodation can be made due to job classification or an offered accommodation or reassignment is not accepted by the employee, separation from employment may occur.”
Captains in the WSP sent an email to troopers earlier this month saying that they would not be accommodated.
“At this time, it has been confirmed that for any public-facing position, there are limited accommodations available,” the email read, adding that “there is no accommodation we can provide for their religious exemption requests.”
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It should be up to individuals whether or not they get the vaccine, and they should be free to make this decision without having to worry about their jobs. What the WSP is doing is truly despicable, and they should not be allowed to get away with it.